The Importance of Maintaining Accurate Organizational Hierarchy Files

December 20, 2018 Cassie Uecker

Accurate hierarchy files are necessary for many aspects of a successful travel program.

Every company has a unique hierarchy, a way to organize and group common elements together and report on them (individually or as part of larger groups). Each hierarchy, as well as the naming of each level, is specific to the organization. That unique hierarchy is provided to the TMC manually or through an SFTP process to mirror your organizational elements in the TMC provided tools.

We outline the main areas hierarchy files impact, and the importance and benefits of maintaining up-to-date files.

Implementation
Typically, clients shifting to a new TMC are doing so for improvements, so the benefit of establishing the desired company structure/hierarchy is part of that enhancement and delivers ROI to the TMC change. Implementation teams spend significant time and effort discovering the current needs of new clients and predicting their future needs. Capturing correct data from the start is vital to measuring the success of the program and the services provided by the TMC. In addition, having an accurate structure from day one focuses time on business-critical items instead of correcting and revising data. 

Account Management and Operations
Accurate hierarchy files play a critical role in successful account management and operations. Account managers maximize efficiency when they do not have to troubleshoot data issues that are a result of incorrect or infrequent uploads. They are able to focus on aspects of the travel program that deliver ROI and remain agile to deliver on projects in a quicker fashion.

Maintaining correct files also improves billing accuracy. Up-to-date information reduces extra work as many clients utilize data provided in the hierarchy for recoding/internal bill backs. Lastly, approval processes are typically driven by the hierarchy levels provided. Keeping the hierarchy updated ensures the timely workflow of such processes.

Technology
Oftentimes, the functionality of technology solutions are based off of hierarchy files, including online booking tools and travel portals. Data quality is essential for these tools. If you put bad data in, you’ll get bad data out. If hierarchies are outdated or incorrect it effects the performance of these tools.

This is especially true for user files. An accurate hierarchy file provides the structure necessary to set up users within these tools. If users are not on the file, they cannot access the tools. This gives a negative initial experience for travelers as they are unable to access a tool their organization is promoting as an enhancement. Accurate files also provide a higher level of security by restricting access to these tools. An out-of-date file could mean individuals who are no longer with the organization may still be able to access travel information. 

It is best practice to provide a file each time a change is made to an organization’s HR or employee management process. Weekly updates may be more attainable for some clients.

Reporting
Correct hierarchy files may be most beneficial to reporting. The hierarchy must remain accurate and up-to-date to return the best data. In order to take full advantage of the functionality offered through a reporting suite, a properly aligned hierarchy is needed. This enables the user to drill down their reports by the metrics provided on the hierarchy, for example by region, division, department, cost center, project number, etc.

Optimized functionality is only one benefit updated hierarchies have on reporting. These files are essential to capturing your spend. By capturing updates to the file, you avoid travel records falling into incorrect hierarchies. For example, if an employee changes/moves positions within the company but this change/move is not updated in the file, the corresponding records fall into the incorrect hierarchy and skew your data. This is true for structural updates or additions as well. For example, if a new department is added to your hierarchy (but the file sent to your reporting system is not updated) the new department will fall into a default hierarchy instead of the desired hierarchy.

Accurate data from the reporting system is needed for budgeting, negotiations and everything in between.

In essence, hierarchy files provide the blueprint to your company’s structure, which is needed for a successful implementation, efficient and effective account management, enhanced technology and optimized reporting. Setting up a process to keep these files up-to-date will maximize the ROI of your travel program and minimize time spent on solving data issues. 

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